After another busy week of “here is a working mother whose husband had a recent birthday” and all the chaos that naturally went with that, I finally got around to reading the latest challenge on the Katalina Blog Challenge and absolute loved the idea. Nadine Rose Larter has outdone herself this week. I sat staring at the bookshelf for a bit before deciding to pick a book. Star Trek books, JRR Tolkien, Harry Potters, Philosophy, Wilbur Smith, ancient cook books mixed randomly with computer course manuals (no one said I was organised) Between a book on Zen Buddhism and Huisgenoot Kook a frazzled piece of what may have been termed a book once (a really long time ago) a dog-eared coverless collection of pages draws my eye. Taking it out, I find a true lost treasure. A book I read so many times as a kid that I am surprised that I can’t recite it from beginning to end. Louis L’Amour’s book Where The Long Grass Blows.
There was a lonely place where the trail ran up to the sky, turning sharply away at the rimrock where a man could see all the valley below, a splendid green of forest and meadow fading into the purple of the farther mountains. The silence there echoes into the cavern of a man’s soul, bringing him closer to the peace that everyone has inside them, that so few ever find. At least, that’s what my Dad used to say. Standing at his grave, I have the perfect view of that ridge and even though twenty years has come and gone, I have not been able to walk that road again. I’ve not been able to find that peace again, and now that I’m a man, I need it more than ever. It feels almost sacrilegious to stand here at his grave contemplating walking up that ridge, looking at the valley below, knowing that I’d only be doing it for the remote chance of finding that peace that has eluded me for so long.
Twenty years. It’s a long time. I look at the tombstone, not even registering the words, just tracing their outline with my eyes. Curving up the S following the T into the circling O. Over and over again my eyes follow that O. I find that the regret I have lived with so long is gone. I’m completely numb to everything. The overgrown grave, the tumbling ruin of the graveyard wall, the sun dappling through the majestic cover a gigantic poplar. I’ve come in order to make some kind of peace with the past, to find that place inside me where peace lives.
I was hoping that I could find it here, perhaps take a walk up to that ridge and simply soak it up. The truth though is that it’s not that simple. You can’t simply open yourself up and say, I’m empty, fill me up. When you open your arms, it doesn’t mean someone will walk into them.
When the brightness of the sun fades into shimmering reds and golds I realize that I have been standing motionless at his grave, unable to move my feet, following that O, glancing at the ridge, back to the O… The proverbial tennis match. I force my feet into a turn-around, my movements sluggish and reluctant. I won’t find peace here, and yet I have a feeling the only peace I’ll ever know can only be found here. Can you find peace anywhere else when the peace you want was placed 6 feet under by your own actions?